Korean Sisters Reunited After 40 Years, Discover They've Been Working At The Same Hospital In Florida

| by Karin Sun
Meagan Hughes, left, and Holly O'BrienMeagan Hughes, left, and Holly O'Brien

A pair of orphaned sisters separated for 40 years have reportedly been reunited after taking nursing jobs on the same floor of a Sarasota hospital.

Holly Hoyle O'Brien, who was born Pok-nam Shin in 1969 in Seoul, South Korea, recently discovered that her co-worker on the fourth floor of Doctors Hospital in Sarasota, Florida, is actually her long-lost half-sister, born in the same city in 1971, the Sarasota Herald Tribune reports. A DNA test performed in August confirmed the genetic link.

The sisters' story of separation and reunion is a long and heartwarming one. 

O'Brien, whose biological mother died when she was too young to remember, spent her early childhood in Pusan, South Korea, with her father, an alcoholic who ran a grocery store. His second marriage faltered, and one night, O'Brien's stepmother took her younger half-sister, Eun-Sook, and fled. They never returned. 

When O'Brien was 5 years old, her father was killed by a speeding train. Four years later, she was adopted from the local orphanage by an American family in Alexandria, Virginia. 

O'Brien's sister Eun-Sook, who now goes by Meagan Hughes, was raised 300 miles away in Kingston, New York after also undergoing an American adoption. Details concerning Hughes's biological mother are vague, but orphanage paperwork reportedly listed her circumstances as "abandonment."

Hughes's adoptive family moved to Venice, Florida, in 1981. After receiving her nursing certification in 2002, Hughes worked for a number of years as a physical therapy assistant in Venice before applying for a nursing position in the surgical medical unit at Doctors Hospital in Sarasota through a friend's recommendation. 

Meanwhile, O'Brien, who had received her nursing license in 1991 and moved to Sarasota with her now ex-husband in 2005, was hired to work in the same unit on the fourth floor of the hospital. The two sisters started work within three months of each other.

O'Brien and Hughes became close friends while working the 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. shift together, and they were surprised to discover many similarities in the details of their lives, including having the same maiden name and place of birth. Their mutual curiosity led to the DNA test that confirmed their relationship.

The reunited siblings were overjoyed to discover their connection.

“When I heard from Holly, my first reaction was like, ‘Oh my god,'" Hughes told The Sarasota Herald-Tribune about the DNA test results. "I was in shock, I was numb. I have a sister." 

Hughes is divorced with two daughters, ages 12 and 19. O'Brien, who has no children of her own, is looking forward to being an aunt. 

“Like, whatever I’ve done, I must’ve done something good in my life," a tearful O'Brien said.

The fortuitous nature of the sisters' reunion is remarkable, but it isn't the first of its kind. In May, CBS News interviewed two sister who were reunited after being separated at birth 30 years earlier. The sisters reportedly discovered their tie after attending the same college writing course.

Source: The Sarasota Herald-Tribune, CBS News

Photo Credit: Dan Wagner/The Sarasota Herald-Tribune